Russian hero appears in wheelchair at NHL Victory Parade

Valeri Nichushkin didn’t let a foot injury spoil his celebrations

Russian winger Valeri Nichushkin was confined to a wheelchair during part of the Colorado Avalanche’s Stanley Cup celebrations in Denver on Thursday, but that didn’t spoil the mood for a player who was part integral to his team’s first NHL championship in more than two decades.

The Avalanche team and staff celebrated wildly after bringing the trophy back to Denver for the first time since 2001, parading the Stanley Cup through downtown streets before taking the stage in front of thousands of fans at the Civic Center Park.

Nichushkin was part of the jubilant scenes but appeared to have his mobility restricted after being photographed in a wheelchair – the result of a right foot injury he somehow challenged to play in Game 6 of the Finals against the Lightning of Tampa Bay as the Avs clinched the title.

After that match, the Russian showed severe bruising on his foot and it was later reported that he only managed to put on his skate with medical assistance.

An x-ray shared by the 27-year-old also appeared to show a broken bone in his foot.

His teammate Mikko Rantanen shared an Instagram image of a wheelchair-bound Nichushkin during Thursday’s parade, praising him as a « warrior. »

With his foot in a protective splint, the Russian star managed to hobble on stage in front of fans at Civic Center Park when his name was announced.

His teammates praised Nichushkin’s heroism. © Instagram @cradnec

After facing questions about his contribution ahead of this year’s playoffs, Nichushkin answered them emphatically with nine goals and 15 points in 20 games.

He contributed four goals and two assists in the Finals against the Lightning as the Avs prevented their rivals from achieving a historic “treble”.

Colorado’s title was their third in team history, following wins in 2001 and 1996.

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Valeri Nichushkin savored success with the Colorado Avalanche. ©Instagram / @nicha43
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Nichushkin’s stock has risen significantly as he enters free agency this summer and eyes a possible departure from Colorado, a team he’s been with since joining the Dallas Stars in 2019.

Nichushkin’s success with the Avs means Russian hockey has had at least one representative on a Stanley Cup-winning team for the past seven consecutive seasons.

However, unlike years past, Nichushkin will not have the honor of parading the famous trophy in his homeland after the NHL banned him from traveling to Russia and Belarus due to the conflict in Ukraine.

READ MORE: NHL confirms Russian Stanley Cup ban


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